What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

A Heart Grows in Brooklyn October 7, 2013

I hate being wet, I hate being cold, and I hate grocery stores. One nasty day when I was living in New York, I needed food. And I mean desperately. Nothing other than fear of starvation would drive me into a New York City grocery store. I was living in the Bronx but working in Brooklyn. The grocery store in the Bronx was big and daunting, so when my husband said I had to pick up food or there would be no breakfast, I decided to pick up a few things in Brooklyn. The grocery store there was small and had almost no selection, making it simple to choose what to buy. No big deal, right?

I finished work and went to the store. It was pouring, but I had my galoshes and umbrella. I was rain proof!  I bought two big bags of groceries, which is a huge emotional accomplishment for me, and headed to the subway. After one block, my left boot started leaking. Halfway through the third block, my umbrella was caught by the wind and broken. By the time I reached the subway, I was wet, cold, and most of the way to tears. I couldn’t even call my mother to cry since there was no cell phone reception. I finally got on the train and managed to find a seat. I sat down and went to put the groceries between my feet. As I lifted my bags, both of them broke.

My soaking wet groceries rolled all over the subway car, and I started to cry. A little old lady who I am fairly certain did not speak English patted me on the arm and stood up, even though the subway car was in motion. She picked up all of my food before I even knew what was happening while the rest of Brooklyn’s little old lady mafia consolidated their groceries. Before we reached the next stop, all of my groceries were double bagged and placed nicely between my feet. I tried to thank the ladies, but they disappeared into the mist of the subway station.

Okay, so maybe there was no mist, but there should have been. A really cool mist rising from the floor as their hero theme song played. That was one of the kindest moments I experienced while living in New York. They didn’t ask for anything in return, they just helped the sopping wet, crying girl out of the kindness of their hearts.


5 Responses to “A Heart Grows in Brooklyn”

  1. helenrj Says:

    This was a very sweet story. Nothing worse than ripped grocery bags…unless, of course, a large can of SpaghettiOs falls on your toes. (yes…pain)

  2. SummersDay Says:

    Yesterday my car battery went dead in the McDonalds parking lot, in a part of town with which I am unfamiliar. I had cables, but everyone looked busy with their own lives and uninterested. I called up my roadside service and they said that they would send someone out to help me in a little over an hour. So now I’m sitting in my car unable to do anything and feeling ridiculous because there’s people to the left and right of me who could help me out.

    Finally this young guy drives in with a truck just left my car. I plucked up my courage and asked him for help. Our genders, ages, and ethnicities are not known for being comfortable with one another. But he looks like an honest and helpful soul to me.

    “I don’t have cables,” he said. “I do,” I answered. He was fast — it took less than 3 minutes. I thanked him enthusiastically and he got his McDonalds. By the time he came out I had run my car long enough that I was leaving. I thanked him again and waved at him as I drove away.

    All of that is prologue to the fact that I saw that he really benefited from helping me. He smiled when he had not been smiling before. He clearly felt he had done his good deed for today. It is easier to be a helper, but being helped also has wonderful ripples.

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